Milan cuts emissions through school lunches

20 October 2020

The City of Milan is tackling CO2 emissions in an unexpected but crucial place – school children’s plates. The city, a leader in dynamic food policy, has managed to reduce the CO2 emissions of their school canteens by twenty per cent in five years.

Milan achieved this by working with the supplier to school canteens, Milano Ristorazione, to develop meals that were balanced between health and sustainability, shifting menus away from food such as red meat and towards plant-based ingredients or meats with a smaller environmental footprint, such as poultry.

“Among the main changes introduced are the carrot pie, the turkey stew and the soy ragù for lasagna and pasta – dishes appreciated by children who eat lunch every day at school,” says the Chair of Milano Ristorazione, Bernardo Notarangelo. His organisation serves 85,000 meals every day to Milan’s school children.

The city’s vice-mayor for food policy, Anna Scavuzzo, hailed a “great result” coming from the collaboration with Milano Ristorazione, and said that it was made possible with the help of the World Resources Institute’s Cool Food Pledge.

The initiative supports organisations to track and reduce the climate impact of the food they serve, and is made up of a cohort of cities, restaurants, hospitals, corporate dining facilities and universities who collectively serve 940 million meals a year.

“With the support of World Resources Institute, it was possible to certify the 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from school canteen menus in 5 years,” says Vice Mayor Scavuzzo. “It is an exciting result and a working method that we want to propose to the collective catering of the city to reduce the emissions of the Milan food system.”

According to Milan’s calculations, this reduction in CO2 emissions is equivalent to taking around 12,700 cars off the road.

Milan has been a leading city in urban food policy. It was named the most sustainable city of those participating in the Cool Food Pledge, ahead of other cities active in the field of food policy such as Toronto, Copenhagen and Ghent. And in 2015, the city led the signing of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact with cities around the globe.

Now, the City of Milan will lead a consortium to scale-up the transformation of food systems with the FOOD TRAILS project. The four-year, €12 million, European Union-funded project will bring together a consortium of 19 partners to turn shared knowledge on food policy into concrete action.

More information on FOOD TRAILS is available here.